March 2, 2018 / 6:38 PM / a year ago

Winter storm forces thousands of U.S. flight cancellations

A flight monitor shows cancelled flights at LaGuardia Airport in New York, U.S., March 2, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A late winter storm forced airlines to cancel thousands of Friday flights, as heavy rain and powerful winds swirled across the U.S. Northeast.

Airlines canceled some 2,542 U.S. flights on Friday, according to flight tracking website Flight Aware, largely on the back of the storm as rough conditions at airports from Maine to Virginia hindered airlines’ ability to operate smoothly.

One pilot landing at Washington Dulles International Airport on Friday morning said “pretty much (everyone) on the plane threw up” during the rough, windy descent.

“Pilots were on the verge of throwing up,” the pilot said in their report, according to a tweet from the National Weather Service Aviation Weather Center.

American Airlines (AAL.O), the nation’s largest airline by passenger traffic, said it had canceled more than 1,260 flights on Friday - some 18 percent of its global operation - with an additional 75 cancellations on Saturday.

Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), the No. 2 U.S. carrier, canceled about 750 flights Thursday night and Friday.

“High crosswinds at the New York airports may, at times, exceed allowable limits for certain regional and mainline aircraft. Those winds may also prevent ground crews from provisioning aircraft with catering and may hamper de-icing efforts,” the carrier wrote on its website.

United Airlines UAL.N, the third largest U.S. carrier by passenger traffic, said it had canceled 100 flights on Friday and expected to operate a reduced schedule through the evening.

Airlines have offered change-fee and fare-difference waivers for flights affected by the storm.

Reporting by Alana Wise; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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